Super Crumb Coffee Cake.
A soft, tender, easy-to-make coffee cake, heavy on the crumbs!
Because the crumb part… is the best part.
If you’re anything like me, you pick off the crumb topping from your coffee cake. Or you take the piece with the most crumb topping on it. If I could make a meal out of crumb topping… believe me, I would.
This is a cinnamon, sugary, buttery crumb-topped coffee cake. Heavy on the crumb.
Today’s coffee cake is an easy-to-follow recipe. This homemade version of the classic is a far cry from any of those overly-sweet, fake-tasting store bought versions you may be used to. It’s buttery, moist, soft, and pairs well with a morning cup of coffee. Let’s face it, this coffee cake will pair well with an afternoon cup o’ joe too. Actually, the coffee is optional. You’ll love this cake no matter what you’re drinking with it.
I got the recipe from my favorite cookbook. The bible of baking, I like to call it. A 1,000+ page book of kitchen-tested recipes, tutorials, and baking tips. My Cooks Illustrated The New Best Recipe – trust me, you need this cookbook. They are the culinary geniuses behind my Death by Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies.
The cookbook doesn’t call this cake “super-crumb.” I do. I baked the crumb cake in a smaller pan than what the recipe states, making the crumb layer in my version thicker for each piece. Kevin had a slice and asked if there was more crumb topping leftover. Even the “super crumb” wasn’t enough for him. I knew I was marrying this man for a reason. 😉
What makes this coffee cake so easy is that the crumb-topping and cake batter all start in the same bowl. The crumb topping’s ingredients (butter, flour, & sugar) is essentially the cake’s ingredients without any liquid. A recipe deriving both cake and crumb topping from the same mixture was a selling point for me.
Simply combine your flour, sugar, salt, and cut in the butter. I used a whisk to cut the butter in and a large fork to mix everything around until the mixture resembled course crumbs. Set aside 1 cup of the crumb mixture and continue with the rest of the cake batter ingredients.
The cup you set aside is your crumb topping. How easy is that?
The recipe calls for buttermilk. There are no substitutions for buttermilk here. I tried. Since I no longer work in the office, I had the spare minute to test this recipe a couple of times. Buttermilk is one of the culprits for how moist the cake’s crumb is. Trust me, you can’t leave it out! It’s required for this recipe – the lactic acid present is what will allow the baking soda to react and leaven the cake. If you buy a carton of buttermilk, you can use the extra in my Triple Chocolate Layer Cake.
You can always make your own buttermilk at home using regular milk + lemon juice. Here’s how I’ve done it before: Measure 2 teaspoons of white vinegar or lemon juice in a measuring cup. Then, add enough milk (1%, 2%, or whole) to the same measuring cup until it reaches 3/4 cup. Stir it around and let sit for 5 minutes. The homemade “buttermilk” will be somewhat curdled and ready to use in your recipe.
Another requirement? Room temperature egg. Don’t worry, I have a shortcut for that too: Place the egg in a bowl of warm/hot water for 5-10 minutes as you get your other ingredients ready. Easy!
The original recipe called for nuts, but I chose to leave them out. I increased the vanilla extract used and the brown sugar used as well. I also increased the cinnamon, as per the usual. Love cinnamon.
This cake is a wonderful option to make ahead the night before brunch or even a holiday breakfast, like Mother’s Day coming soon. If busy mornings are the norm in your house, make this coffee cake ahead of time. That’s exactly what I did. I made it on Saturday morning and on Sunday, it still tasted incredibly fresh. The crumbs were piled high, the cake hidden underneath was moist and tender, and the taste? Oh so cinnamon-buttery.
In some bites, the crumb layer was thicker than the cake layer! Amazing.
Old-fashioned crumb coffeecake at its finest, my friends.
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Super-Crumb Coffee Cake
Yield: serves 8-10
- 1 Tablespoon flour, for coating the pan
- 2 cups all-purpose flour (measured correctly)
- 1 cup + 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 10 Tablespoons (1 and 1/4 stick) unsalted butter, firm and cold
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature1
- 1 large egg, at room temperature2
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2/3 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 350F. Generously spray a 9-inch springform pan3 with cooking spray or grease with butter. Sprinkle the bottom of the pan with 1 Tablespoon of flour and tap out the excess.
- Whisk the flour, sugar, and salt together in a large mixing bowl until combined. Cut in the butter in very small pieces using a pastry blender or mix with a fork until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside 1 cup of the butter/flour mixture.
- Mix the baking powder and baking soda into the remaining flour mixture. Add the room temperature buttermilk, egg, and vanilla - you may want to do this with a mixer. The batter is very, very thick. Vigorously mix everything together until the batter is smooth, fluffy, and resembles frosting - about 2 full minutes. Spoon the batter into the prepared springform pan, smoothing the top.
- Add the brown sugar and cinnamon to the reserved flour mixture. Toss with a fork until well blended. Sprinkle the crumbs over the batter, pressingly lightly so they stick. Bake the cake until the center is firm and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean - 50-58 minutes. Mine took 55 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then remove the sides of the springform pan and allow cake to cool completely before serving (about 2 hours).
- Make ahead tip: Cake tastes best on day 1 or day 2. The cake may be made 1 day in advance. Store covered at room temperature for up to 1 week. Cake can be frozen up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
1See note in the post about buttermilk substitution.
2See note in the post about bring egg to room temperature quickly.
3Don't have a springform pan? Use a 9x9x2 (not 8-inch) square baking dish.
Update: Crumbs are likely to sink to the bottom of the cake is your butter is not firm enough, therefore making a crumb too soft to stay put on top. You can try using frozen butter and cutting that into the mixture with your pastry blender.
Adapted from Cooks Illustrated The New Best Recipe
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You won’t mind waking up to a few of my similar recipes for breakfast!
After one bite of this coffee cake, breakfast will seem like a real treat.